This weeks story is a few minutes late. You’re going to have to live with that. Blame the reno’s and my slow painting skills. Seriously, I’m bad at painting. Oh well.
Part two of flesh continues the sci-fi cyberpunk story of Kamm and his attempt to get offworld. 1502 words. Read part one first:
Kamm walked quickly down the alleyways, keeping his head down as the wind picked up. He kept to the dark, mainly out of habit as the streets were mostly deserted anyway. He’d run into three young guys who were hunkering by the corner of a squat building. One of them spotted him right away. He tapped the arm of his larger companion, a nod indicated Kamm as he walked toward the group. The larger man made the call and shook his head. Kamm grinned at them as he walked past. They watched him but didn’t make a move.
He fished though his pockets and after a few frustrating seconds, pulled out a pair of goggles. He detangled them from some cables, which he pushed back into his pocket, then pressed the strapless goggles to his face. They adhered smoothly to his skin and the HUD resolved. Within seconds they ejected the sand caught in them from the wind.
The goggles provided basic environmental stats, such as altitude, direction, time, temperature, pressure and so on. They also enhanced vision, changing contrast and adding night vision with optional infrared. Kamm didn’t care about any of this at the moment – he knew exactly where he was going. He just wanted the sand out of his eyes, as the wind was getting worse than it had been in weeks.
Yamaha’s club was well guarded. Kamm had checked the place out a few times during the past two days. It was all the time he could afford, considering all four of the planet’s corporations wanted his head. He checked the time, twenty-two minutes until reactivation. He lifted his shirt. He had a sensor duct taped over his heart. He squeezed the warm metal it until he heard it chime. Activated, now there was no turning back.
He didn’t trust Yamaha, and two days wasn’t enough time to learn exactly how he was protecting Club Fluid. Kamm hired a couple of kids to case the place out and he’d bought them some local drug in exchange. As they shot up with some foul smelling viscous blue liquid, they described where they saw the bouncers and the general layout.
As he approached the club he ran through his plan. It was pretty simple. He’d not had many choices. Either Yamaha would willingly help or Kamm would threaten him until he was forced into it. The lack of time and reliable information meant either sneaking in or explosives. The subtle approach of sneaking in was too risky, Yamaha may be scum but he had been a good soldier.
The previous evening. Kamm had waited until it was dark. He was a block back from Club Fluid but the music’s bass line could be clearly heard even here. He pulled out a disk from his cloth shoulder bag, it was as wide as his palm and surprisingly light given how solid it felt. He held two finders to one side and double-tapped the other. The disk vibrated and Kamm threw it a metre in front of him. Six legs telescoped out and the device righted itself then vibrated the sand off its casing. Somewhat inaccurately they were known as spiders, the real name was a number sequence no-one bothered recalling.
The spider turned until it saw that only one person was nearby, rightly assuming this was its owner. It stood by Kamm’s feet and waited. Kamm pulled out his mobile, opened a command prompt and executed a script he’d spent an hour writing earlier. The spider was a cheap ass model with little to no AI, not even as smart as a dog, so he’d been forced to be old school.
On receiving the instructions the spider rotated, trotted off to the nearest building and climbed the wall. In a few seconds it was swinging leg over leg across a connecting cable onto the roof the building next to Club Fluid. Kamm jogged to the end of the alley opposite the club. He lost sight of the spider as it walked into the roof and toward the buildings generator.
With no central electric supply each building had to make arrangements for its own electricity. Over time this developed into and interconnected system where groups of buildings shared one source, or group sourced and shared the supply. Club Fluid was one of three buildings with a generator in this neighbourhood. The nearest other generator the spider was currently approaching.
Kamm didn’t want to risk the robot walking on the roof of Club Fluid, just in case Yamaha had scanners up there. No alarms sounded as the spider climbed onto the generator and pressed its body to the metal. With a muffled pop and crack the spider detonated and blew a cylindrical hole through the generator. The neighbourhood went dark.
He walked out from the alley and toward the club. Kamm angled himself so he looked like he wasn’t heading to the entrance. The spooked bouncer outside noted him but dismissed him right away, he was talking into his mobile, holding out an arm to the group of kids at the front of the line who were laughing in the sudden silence.
The side alley of the club was empty so Kamm ran down it, stopping about half way down the side of the building. He pulled out a small brown sphere, twisted it laterally and it sprang apart. The two halves of the sphere were connected by what looked like a snake, they writhed slowly until Kamm dropped it by the wall. He’d set it up to dig down a metre then go inert for twenty-four hours. It wiggled in the sand, oriented itself and pulsed downwards.
As Kamm scuffed the disturbed sand with his boot the neighbourhood lights flickered and came on. He looked round, then pulled up his scarf over his face. He ran his plan back through his mind and weighed if he could just run. One explosive would be a lot of damage but not enough. Better than getting killed, he fumbled at his crotch and started walking down the alley, swaying his steps a little for the cameras. Just a drunk taking a piss, nothing to investigate, cold sweat ran between his shoulder blades.
Then the lights browned out. Kamm ran to the end of the alley. He walked around the corner toward the other side of the building. He rounded the corner and almost walked into a tall woman. Her clothes were all pockets, ill-fitting but practical, sand coloured aside from the scarf around her neck. It was the same blue as the drugs Kamm had hired the kids with earlier.
“What the fuck, man.” She said softly, without real anger. Kamm just nodded and stepped around her. The alley had a group much further down it but they were walking away from him. The lights flickered again, illuminating the scene for a few seconds before they dimmed and went out.
“No.” Kamm said and slowly walked up the alley away from her.
“I got all sorts, man.” She said from behind him, she was following him, still trying to sell.
“Fuck off.” Kamm said. The electrics had been on longer, next time they might stay on. Kamm was almost half way down the alley.
“Just doing my job,” she said, “Got some fucking great flatliners, or spikes if you’re into downers.” Kamm looked over at her. Knocking her out or killing her was easy enough but would attract too much attention as soon as the club scanners became live again. He felt around in his bag for the sphere and closed his hand around it.
“The flatliner’s good?” He asked.
“From Sowlest-top, the best.” A nearby city, mostly flattened so Kamm somehow doubted that.
“One’ll keep you up and fast for at least a day, man.” She shrugged. “Maybe more.” He nodded at her. “Twenty.” She said.
“Fifteen. It’s not from Sowlest and I’m not a tourist.” She eyed him but nodded and started pulling out a bag from one of her leg pockets. Kamm twisted the sphere and dropped it behind him. It writhed with a slight scratching sound on the sand and started downwards. Kamm scuffed his feet as though impatient.
“Coulda fooled me with that accent.” She said as she pulled out blister pack from the bag, the lights flicked on, dimmed then brightened. The systems were back on, the woman looked around blinking. She tore off a tab from the pack and waited, staring at Kamm with a blank expression. Kamm counted out fifteen and handed the grubby notes over. She handed over the tab.
“Take it easy, man.” She turned away from him, one hand raised in goodbye or dismissal.
“Yeah,” Kamm replied, “I intend to.” He walked away, pulling up his slipping scarf. To the club scanners it looked like any of a hundred deals that happened every day. Perfect cover. Sometimes, Kam reflected, even bastards get good luck.
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